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Poseidon - Josh Lucas/Richard Dreyfuss interview

Josh Lucas in Poseidon

Extracts by Rob Carnevale

JOSH Lucas and Richard Dreyfuss talk about some of the challenges of filming Poseidon at the London press conference…

Q. How do you pitch a performance when you’re also worried about the dangers that exist around you?
Josh Lucas: I’ve consistently said about this movie we weren’t so much acting as reacting. The environment was astonishingly realistic. The job then becomes – because you’re in a situation where the film takes place over the course of about two hours – how do you maintain the energy of five months of this intensity that is, simply put, being in a life-threatening situation every single moment? So my job then became – as all of ours did – to try and modulate that at times so that the audience has moments of breathing and hopefully some of joy and a little lightness that I think would be realistic for a situation where we all had the same problem. We were all watching world-wide horrific disasters and trying not to make the original Poseidon Adventure, which is actually just a fun, silly film. You’re looking at Katrina and the Tsunami and then this exact image where there’s people on a beach watching a wave coming towards them. For me, I couldn’t justify having idiotic moments – but at the same time you have to have moments where the audience can catch their breath.
I’ll tell you the truth. I have been in two very bad situations in my life – once on a sailboat that got hit by a storm and once on a river where my mother almost drowned and both of them had a very similar experience where everything went calm and almost into slow motion. So where that idea came from of this character, being in that life or death situation, a decision was going to have to be made very clearly of “look, if two people are going to die, let’s try and save one”. It’s then clear cut that if you become overly emotional about that, it’s probably going to reduce your chances of surviving after that. But that question was a very difficult one and was consistently on my mind in terms of the energy that it took to keep driving through what is the life or death of thousands of people.

Q. A UK cinema chain ran a poll a couple of years ago which named the original as the top disaster film of all-time. How do you think this remake will be regarded in 30 years?
Richard Dreyfuss. I think the chances of anyone watching a 60-year-old film 30 years from now is slim or none. I think that the older film is not really a great film. It’s a great idea and it just managed to remain on cable like most of our careers – there’s a difference between that and a cult classic. Whether this film will be a classic or not? It takes advantage of Hollywood’s magic and Hollywood’s technical ability, which is far more. It allows you to believe things that in the older films you would have to forgive. If it was true that we did watch that were 60 years old, we’d all have a very different film vocabulary right now and a very different reference point. Fortunately, or unfortunately, it’s likely that the older film will not be seen by anyone.

Q. You obviously knew what you were signing up for but did you have to overcome any phobias?
Richard Dreyfuss. You have to give a lot of credit to the safety people because they designed the safety features to a certain extent as we went along because you can never anticipate everything. With us, in the water especially, was Jimmy, who was nine-years-old who did everything we did and did it with an extraordinary temperament. In fact he did it the first couple of times in as much peril as I’ve ever seen. We hadn’t perfected the safety procedures and the water was violent, with whirlpools and waves, and he was in trouble, as we were. I can not give him enough credit for his extraordinary attitude and professionalism. Also, while we did everything we did, half of the crew did everything we did while walking backwards and they got hurt too, holding cameras in their arms. So it was, all around, one of those experiences that none of us are ever going to forget.